Ellen's Living Room Makeover

When reader Ellen won the custom room makeover giveaway, she sent me her pictures almost immediately. And while her and her hubby's living room/dining room space looks neat and functional, she says the space doesn't reflect their taste. Ikea furniture from hubby's bachelor days, and a giant red wall that was there when they moved in.

Our living/dining room is really the only “living space” in our house.  This means it needs to be extremely functional since it is a relatively small space.  The main things that happen in this space are eating, tv watching and web surfing.  It is also used for entertaining and hanging out when we have guests. I want this space to be warm, inviting, and comfortable.  I don’t want to worry about things getting ruined but I do want it to have some “fancy” touches.  I want to be able to LIVE in this space. Our living room has a two story vaulted ceiling.  It also has a fireplace that we love...although it is a little “builder basic” for my taste.  Also, we have three pretty much floor to ceiling windows on the front of the house.  It is also connected to our entryway and open staircase.  From the open hallway above, you can look down over the space.  (Hopefully that makes sense, not sure how to really describe it!)

Let's take a look:

Tall windows but too-small accessories

Bachelor pad mural and that red wall!

The other walls are basic builder white

Here's what I suggest:


Ellen's Living Room Makeover copy

Ellen had already suggested painting, so I suggested painting the entire space a soft off-white. The space is small, and right now the dark wall when you walk in seems to close in on the room. A creamy shade (extended through the hall and upstairs too) will be warm and traditional. The sofa, tv stand, secretary desk (love), and coffee table are staying, as well as a beautiful blue chair that was Ellen's great grandmother's. In the dining room, the table and chairs look nice but are uncomfortable. Since the table is abnormally low, the chairs leave little room for legs. We talked about getting new chairs, but I think saving up and getting a nice round pedestal table (with leaves) and matching chairs at a later date would be smartest. They usually eat at the couch anyway. The space is functional, but some accessories and accent pieces are needed.

1. Ellen's large fireplace needs a focal point that can provide balance. The photos and accessories on it right now aren't noticed. This big black mirror from Target has enough heft to look purposeful. Ellen has picked out some shimmery tile to re-do the front of the mantel that will go nicely with the cream walls and add some sparkle. Filling the fireplace with candles will look pretty and keep it useful when it's too hot for a fire.

2. Two of these hurricane vases will add more sparkle and interest to the mantel, especially when filled with rotating displays. Ellen, see my post on 50 Things to Put in Apothecary Jars for ideas. The jars that are on the mantel now will be pretty in the bedroom or bath, but they are too small for the fireplace.

3 & 4. Ellen desperately wants to be rid of the photo mural that her husband had before she moved in. The horizontal look works though, and adds depth to the small room, so putting up a picture ledge (two side by side) will add flexibility to the display when Ellen gets bored. Since Ellen likes the idea of keeping red accents, a grouping of black and white photos with just a few pops of red will add a subtle color scheme. These two photos are from etsy, but family photos or any nature prints would work too. The photos from above the fireplace, matted and reframed, would look great over here (Ellen's husband took them in London).

5. The side tables are too short for the couch and are old Ikea cheapies. They want something that looks a little more traditional and has some storage. The white space-ship lamp can go, and these tables from Pier 1 will flank the sofa, topped with two rubbed broze lamps with champagne shades, taken from the bedroom. The shelves below would look great with baskets or a stack of books.

6. This pillow is to reflect the color of Ellen's great grandmother's chair, and also the color of an existing throw pillow on the couch. Another pillow she already has is green, and a red pillow is on the blue chair. Next to the blue chair, Ellen just found a small pedestal table at a thrift store that she will paint black to match the other furniture.

7. Ellen really wanted a pattern in the room, and I chose this floral pattern from Joann Fabric. It pulls together the blues, reds, some green and the cream that she already has in the space. This will look beautiful as drapes flanking the front window (over sheers that cover all three windows), and mirrored the same way over the currently bare window in the dining room. An extra yard or two would make a few throw pillows also, and tie the look together. Because the window is so large, she may have to sew them herself (or hire someone to do it).

8. Lastly, I know that Ellen really loves monograms, so I found this "A" (their last initial) on etsy. It would look great propped up on the mantel or even hanging opposite the clock above the tv.

Ellen, I can't wait to see how it looks!